Meeting Notes: July 2013

A good turnout of enthusiasts spent one of the hottest summer evenings last night in the cool of the Britannia Boardroom, discussing a wide range of heritage and historical topics:

  • We began by patting ourselves on the back for the organization and success of the Shelly’s Sign Party in June.  Especial thanks were given to Ann Daskal who was the principal organizer of the event. We had perhaps 200 people there and a good time was had by all.
  • On a more serious note, the issue of the recent purchase of 2040 Pandora Street and its neighbour was raised. 2040 Pandora is a particularly fine house and perhaps the earliest (1906) in its area. It had been converted in 1939 to a triplex.  The house and its neighbour sit in 2 50′ lots in an area zoned for small apartment buildings, and there is a danger that the old house may be lost in any new development.  Michael Kluckner noted that nothing has come to the Heritage Commission yet and he hoped that, at the least, the developer could be persuaded, probably through a densisty bonus, to restore the house and build units around the back and one side — not disimilar to the Jeffs House development.  This is a watch and wait situation.
  • As an offshoot of the previous discussion, Bruce Macdonald noted his current research into the Burrard South shipyard which operated during the war at the north end of McLean Drive and which employed hundreds of Grandview residents.
  • Jak noted that at the Shelly’s Party he had been approached by a large number of local residents who complained about the new “The Drive” street signs that had appeared without warning throughout much of the neighbourhood. Jak reported that after a discussion with the Commercial Drive BIA, the business group — who had had the signs put up — had written to the City asking for them to be removed except on Commercial Drive itself.
  • A newspaper article regarding the failure of New Westminster’s attempt to institute heritage areas in their city had been circulated before the meeting, and this was discussed.  As Michael noted, the Royal City had tried to use sticks rather than carrots and that has not worked out too well.  It was also noted that New West, unlike Vancouver, operates under the Municipal Act of BC which has caused concerns regarding liability.
  • We then had a long discussion about the current state of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.  Clr. Andriane Carr’s Motion for 23rd July was noted, as were the next two Open Houses on 29th and 31st July.
  • We then discussed future Walks & Talks.  Maurice Guibord has offered to reprise his popular Commercial Drive to Clark Drive Walk at a date in the fall to be determined. We also agreed to make the Researching Your House’s History seminar into an annual event.  Eric also is working on a few more of his Historic House Mechanical and Materials series and we look forward to those.
  • Jak and Lance reported on the progress with the Grandview wiki project.  Jak is hoping to make this available publicly befofe the next meeting.  At the next meeting he will also give a presentation on how to enter material into the wiki.
  • It was noted that an extended version of the July 1st piece on our blog regarding the construction of the First Avenue Viaduct will be included in the fall edition of BC History Magazine.
  • There was an interesting discussion about collecting and videotaping interviews with senior residents of Grandview to capture their stories before they are lost.  We will pursue this further.
  • Bruce reported on his continuing work to try to get the super-size bowling pin moved from the now-closed Ridge Bowling Lanes to the Grandview Lanes. We await further developments.
  • The next meeting will be on Thursday 15th August.

 

Grandview in 1945

Here is a map prepared by the City of Vancouver that shows almost all of Grandview in 1945.

grandview 1945This image is constructed from two maps (343.10 and 343.11) in the City of Vancouver Archives collection.  The series of maps is captioned as being “hand coloured to show tax sale property for sale, property with no water, street widening and drainage, replotting, reserved land for schools, reserved land for parks, sundry land, capital assets not including schools and parks, schools, and parks, as applicable.”  It is not clear what colours are meant to represent what item but, from other data I have collected, I would suggest that the houses marked in red were those in tax trouble.

If you zoom in on your screen you can see a great deal of detail.

April Meeting Notes

We had another full and fascinating meeting of the Group last night, welcoming a number of first-time visitors. We began with a series of celebrations and good news.

We have received confirmation that the Group has been selected for an Award of Merit for Heritage Advocacy in the 2013 City of Vancouver Heritage Awards. The award ceremony is at the Georgia Hotel on May 27.  We are very proud recipients.

That was good news, followed by the great news that we now have the funds to complete the revitalization of the Shelly’s 4X Sign at Victoria and William.  The sign has suffered badly in the elements since it was revealed last year when the stucco covering was removed during renovations prior to the opening of the Via Tevere Restaurant.

G016-3We have received a substantial contribution of $2,000 from the Via Tevere Restaurant, for which we are very grateful.  In addition we have received $1,500 from a North Hastings Community Grant which allows us to celebrate the sign and its neighbouring area in a proper way.  Once again we are extraordinarily grateful for their assistance.  We have also applied for additional grants to complete the work but, in the meanwhile, we will top up the budget from our own funds.

Michael Kluckner has already put up temporary protection on the sign and now we just need a stretch of five or six days good weather to dry out the wood and for artist Victoria Oginski to work her magic.  We are hoping to get this completed within a month or so.

Later, early in the summer, we will be having a big celebratory party for the sign and its position within the neighbourhood.  You can expect food and music, a scavenger hunt, history tours and a lot of fun!  As we firm up dates and details, we will post them here.

And the good news just rolled on.  We have now put up all 25 of this year’s Centenary Birthday Signs on a wide range of wonderful houses in Grandview that are at least one hundred years old.  We have established a page on this site where you can find a map of all the houses along with architectural and historical details.  If you happen to have more information about any of these houses, please send it in and we’ll update the map.

For the 2012 Signs campaign, we had a lovely birthday party, and we decided to do another one for the 2013 campaign.  This year’s party will be at 1:30pm on Saturday 4th May on Grandview Park opposite 1636 Charles Street.  More details to follow, but everyone is welcome to join us in this celebration of Grandview’s glorious heritage houses.

Michael Kluckner gave a presentation on some lessons we have learned from this year’s campaign.  As we were preparing the final list of 2013 houses, we were approached by the owner of a house on Woodland and we were delighted to give a sign as we had documentation that the original house had been built in 1907.  However, on viewing the property, Michael and others became suspicious about its actual date.

The 1907 building permit said it was a $750 cottage, in the middle of three other $750 cottages; but, this house was clearly bigger than its neighbour, and far too big for a $750 cottage of that age.  The 1910 and 1912 maps we looked at showed four square little cottages equidistant apart.  However, by the 1927 Fire Insurance map, this house was shown to have grown and moved a lot closer to its southern neighbour.  And aerial photos revealed that the roof had been significantly altered.

So, although there is a 1907 buildng permit, and even though the same owners had the property from 1908 to 1952, it seems certain that between 1912 and 1927 they demolished the original cottage and replaced it with a much larger house.  This goes to show that documentation isn’t everything!

The meeting continued in great style with the third in Eric Phillip’s marvelous Heritage House Mechanics and Materials series. This presentation — with excellent visuals and a lot of hard-won personal knowledge — was about the difference between traditional timber framing, balloon framing, and Western Platform framing. It was fascinating.  We will work on Eric to prepare this series for web access as soon as possible because it deserves a wider audience.

It was agreed that next month our presentation will be Michael Kluckner on house types/styles in Grandview.  That promises to be another fascinating lesson.

Next Meeting: 18th April 2013

It is amazing how quickly the months roll around, and here we are just a week away from the next GHG Public Meeting.  As usual we will meet at the Britannia Board Room on Napier Street at 7:00pm on Thursday 18th April.  We have quite a few things to talk about.

I am sure the highlight of the evening will be the third in Eric Phillip’s excellent series on Historic House Mechanicals and Materials.  This one will be about balloon construction and why it was different from both platform and timber frame construction.

cyclopedia07-p49There are a number of events coming up that we need to discuss:  2013 Heritage Awards (end of May); Heritage Vancouver House Tour (2nd June), which we might have some part of; and CarFree Day on the Drive (16 June), in which we have participated before.

We also have a couple of projects that are ongoing:  the launch of the 2013 Centenary House Signs campaign needs to be arranged; and we have news to share on the Shelly’s 4X Sign renewal project.

Hopefully we will also have time to discuss a summer program of walks and talks, and to discuss the upcoming 75th anniversary (July 1st) of the First Avenue Viaduct.  And, of course, anything else that folks want to raise

It should be a fun and interesting evening, so do please join us in this continuing conversation designed to enhance and protect the heritage of Grandview.

What Might Have Been

As I am sure most of you already know, the present boundaries of Grandview Woodland are Clark Drive to the west, the inlet to the north, Nanaimo Street on the east and Broadway to the south.  These boundaries were established in the late 1960s.

cityvanAs local historian Bruce Macdonald has noted, the City has never produced a real map of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.  The various “neighbourhoods” — including Grandview Woodland — that are used by administrative agencies today were agreed to by the City in 1969 after a great deal of analysis on social service, health and education delivery by United Community Services (UCS, now known as United Way) in a period when Local Area control was all the rage (quite unlike today).

However, it took the UCS a while to get agreement from the local areas themselves.  That’s because the map they produced was based entirely on theoretical calculations, breaking the city down into almost-equal population packages, with virtually no concern for social and historic considerations. For example, the following is the first map they proposed, in December 1966.

Local Area Proposal Dec 1966Quite a number of areas were eventually changed, but the proposal for Grandview seems the worst of all.  Virtually none of the “Grandview” in this map is in the Grandview of today, taking over as it does what we know as Mount Pleasant.

GW Local Area Proposal Dec 1966The plan to link Strathcona and Grandview had been discussed throughout the 1960s but, luckily, the folks in the Woodland Park Area Resources Council — soon to be renamed the Grandview Woodland Area Council — wouldn’t have it and Grandview was quickly reestablished in its proper position.

Source of the 1966 map is B.W.Mayhew to UCS Local Area Councils, 8 Dec 1966, in CVA, Add Ms 981, 599-A-6, File 1

Former Streams in Grandview

While researching through the old “Highland Echo” editions today, I came across this map of streams and creeks that had formerly traversed Grandview.

GV CreeksObviously I cannot verify the accuracy of this map.  However, it was prepared by Roy Blunden of the Dept of Geological Sciences at UBC in preparation for a geological map of BC.  It was published in the “Highland Echo” of 9th March, 1978.

 

1911 Census Finding Aid

The 1911 Canada Census, now available online, is an extraordinary resource for historians.  For those seeking information about individuals or families, a number of geneaological organizations have transcribed some of the data, making it a relatively easy matter to find people. However, the same cannot be said for those of us who study streets and neighbourhoods. I am not aware of any index to where a particular street can be found in the Census documents.

The 1911 Census is organized in Districts, sub-districts, and pages.  Vancouver is in District 12.  The data for Grandview is scattered among at least nine sub-districts, and streets are broken up among scores of pages within multiple sub-districts. It quickly becomes apparent that the data was collected by census officials taking long walks, often with no discernible logic to the route.

The table below is my effort to create an index of where 1911 Census data for Grandview can be found.by street name.

Census 1911It is probable that I have not yet found all the data available; but I believe the table above includes the vast majority of Grandview addresses.  I hope it proves of value to researchers.

Thanks For Attending

We had a good crowd out to listen to and watch the lecture yesterday afternoon and to ask some lively questions.  We want to thank everyone who came along.  Hopefully folks learned a few things they might not have known before, and at the same time the Heritage Group gained a few dollars to continue our work of preserving and protecting Grandview’s heritage.

We also want to thank the staff/volunteers at Britannia who made it possible for us to use the really excellent space at the Eastside Family Place.

Thanks to everyone!